W7 – Provenance and Online Privacy/Censorship

Posting or publishing personal information online has now become commonplace allowing the individual to view data that would otherwise be unobtainable during the pre-online era. The convenience and ease in which this information can be accessed has advocated a strong relationship with the viewer, altering their public and private sphere (time of consumption) and causing the individual to demonstrate archive fever due to a compulsive/obsessive desire now being established towards archives within this modern day framework. Websites such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, Wikileaks have initiated this fever by providing up-to-date informational content of its own and others provenance. This provenance or the (location or ownership of archives by an organization, group or individual) has been under increased scrutiny and controversy within recent years regarding information being published that is not done so by the original creator/publisher. This has been categorized in the form of plagiarisim, P2P file sharing, and government private records/documentation being made accessible to the general public etc. Therefore, issues of online piracy and censorship have been brought to attention with legal authorities and government jurisdiction trying to pass/advocate laws such as SOPA/ACTA and Privacy/Censorship laws.

This idea of making the invisible visible is seen with such sites as Facebook, with up-to-date information about oneself being published of what would otherwise be private, being made public. Viewers may develop an emotional and obsessive desire to continually check up on others updates or compulsively post or keep-up-to-date on one’s own profile. Facebook’s online piracy has been continually challenged, with identities being stolen or accounts being hacked. Issues with pedophilia have also been a problem with children younger and younger joining social networking sites. Children have been stalked with images and private information of themselves being made accessible to the public, even including location of residence and phone number. Now more than ever, parents continually monitoring their child’s internet activity or disallowing their child to create an account. Google has also been the target of criticism regarding the provenance of what information is being shared through it’s search engine. Providing a shared/integrated informational content between its services e.g. Youtube, Gmail, Google books etc. being the subject of legal problems. Much like Facebook, privacy is also an issue with Google with social networking information being tied across multiple sites into its search engines.  

The idea of censorship has been a contentious issue within today’s online society with acts such as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and ACTA (Anti-counterfeiting trade Agreement) being signed by a number of countries e.g. US. This has seen the closing down of many P2P file-sharing sites such as Megaupload, btjunkie, fileserver etc. being in direct breach of its intellectual property rights and copyright infringement. This had adversely affected the freedom rights and expressions of the public with governments now having the ability to criminally enforce and extradite individuals who are breaking the laws stated within this new bill.

Although issues of piracy are largely in breach of civil law, it can also be a necessary and essential enforcement of laws and regulations in which can keep us safer within the online environment, copyright infringement and the sharing of intellectual property are mostly inappropriate and unnecessary within the online landscape as it is our freedom to publicly share and obtain information without government  or organizational intervention. 

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